Reviews for The ultimate Spider-man

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A novella from Marvel Comics co-founder Lee and writer Peter David packaged with 12 new stories (from other writers) that follow the amazing web-slinger from his humble high-school beginnings to his contemporary crises of purpose. With one exception, these stories utterly miss the point and fail to translate the richness of the old comic panels to straight print. It was the combination of existential indecision, vigilante self-loathing, and killer art that always distinguished the Spider-Man comics. This was especially true of the comics that appeared in the 1970s, when the brooding Spider-Man's adventures were cast in a grim New York City, in whose angular shadows the character confronted his own demons along with a passel of criminal nasties and the disdain of the authorities. Threats from within matched the danger outside, and often Spidey looked like he might drift into psychosis. But this anthology seems determined to paint a revised, sanitized portrait of the wall-crawler. Only Ann Nocenti's twisted tale of organ thieves and genetic horrors (``Blindspot'') successfully conveys the dark side of Spider-Man as she enters the area between classical ethics and pop ambiguities that shows the web-slinger at his most complex. Other tales are stiffer: Spidey teaches a young boy a lesson about responsibility (Lawrence Watt-Evans's ``Cool''); Spidey races to keep Dr. Curt Conners, a Jekyll-and-Hyde character whose bad side is the Lizard, from snuffing out his family (Christopher Golden's ``Radically Both''); Spidey swings to Brooklyn, carrying a liver transplant for a little girl (Robert L. Washington III's ``Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Courier''). Other tales provide the supporting cast: Peter Parker's angelic Aunt May; his suffering girlfriends (Gwen, Mary Jane); his grouchy Daily Bugle editor, J. Jonah Jameson; and some of the more notable villains, including Doctor Octopus, Vulture, Mysterio, and Venom. Shows all too clearly why comics are comics and books are books. (16 b&w illustrations)